Chills & Thrills
Hendricks Regional Health YMCA Halloween Extravaganza Coming October 26
Each year since the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA facility first opened its doors in 2011, they have hosted a fun-filled Halloween Extravaganza that is open to the community. Through the years, it has evolved in an effort to make it better and better. For instance, they used to transform one of their rooms into a haunted house but now set up outdoor scare stations instead.
“In past years, we’ve tried to do something out of the ordinary when it comes to offering some sort of scary thing,” says Alysson Baise, Senior Youth & Family Director at Hendricks Regional Health YMCA. “We try to add a twist to it every year.”
A fan favorite is the haunted hayrides, complete with roaming zombies and the notorious maniac wielding a chainsaw. Younger patrons who are more sensitive to scares usually ride in the daylight hours. As night falls, however, older kids make a beeline to the hayride, eager to enjoy the thrill of the chill.
Two years ago, one of the two tractors broke down, creating a backlog of folks waiting to board. One family with a 3 and a 6-year-old were so excited for the hayride that they stood in line for nearly an hour. To make up for their long wait, the volunteer storyteller who narrated the hayride went above and beyond to ensure their experience was special.
“There was this spotlight over the parking lot near Buffalo Wild Wings, and you could see these bright circles in the sky from here so the storyteller weaved those lights into her tale about ghosts and spirits to make it scarier,” Baise says. “It just took the experience up a notch, and the kids loved it so much that not only did the parents say they didn’t mind the wait, but after exiting the ride, the family got right back in line to do it again.”
The Halloween Extravaganza, which hosts both indoor and outdoor stations, is held, rain or shine.
“Last year the staff spent all day prepping stations to go outside but then rain started falling and we couldn’t set any of it out,” Baise says. This was especially true of the paper mache decorations, which would have disintegrated in precipitation.
Regardless of the weather, the event always includes crafts, games and candy in the gymnasium. Weather permitting, the staff builds a roaring campfire so community members can roast marshmallows for s’mores. Plus, there’s decorative, decadent cake provided by Shug’s Bakery.
“Everyone dresses up — even parents,” says Baise, noting that the event unites community members of all ages. “We have lots of children and parents but also grandparents who come just to watch their grandkids get scared.”
Children with special needs are welcome with open arms.
“We love to have special needs kids be a part of all of our programs,” Baise says. “We modify a couple of things to make it enjoyable for them. We are always super happy to share that excitement with them.”
Baise encourages members to invite along non-member friends and family to see what the YMCA is all about. The event, which typically draws between 250-300 people, costs just $5 per YMCA member or $8 for guests. Children two and under are free. You can pre-register or pay at the door.
The Halloween Extravaganza will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, October 26 — the last weekend of fall break. Hendricks Regional Health is located at 301 Satori Parkway, Suite 120 in Avon. For more information, visit hendricks.org.